The association of aggression and empathy: Considering gender differences
Kolste, J. te
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This study aimed to investigate the association between affective empathy, cognitive empathy and aggression among young adults and to examine whether there are significant differences between males and females with regard to this association. Earlier studies generally report a negative relationship between empathy and aggression; this would mean that the development of empathy might influence aggressive behaviour. In this study 168 participants were included between the age of 18 and 26, where the majority were females (76,2%). Data has been collected through an online survey. Empathy has been measured with The Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI). The Proactive/Reactive Aggression (PRA) was used to measure aggressive behaviour. To examine whether the association between empathy and aggression depend on the type of empathy, a regression analysis was conducted. It was hypothesized that the association between cognitive empathy and aggression would be negative for males and non- significant for females. The findings support these hypotheses, however the association for males can be accounted as marginally. It was further hypothesized that the association between affective empathy and aggression would be non- significant for males and negative for females. The association between affective empathy and aggression is, as expected for males, non- significant. The association for females was, contrary to the hypotheses, not significant. This study presents a good start for investigation the association between affective empathy, cognitive empathy and aggression. However, further research is suggested concerning the variable of aggression, the technics of measurements and further possible predictors of aggression.